Mumbai: High Court Refuses to Intervene in Hijab Ban Decision of College

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MUMBAI – The Bombay High Court on Wednesday refused to interfere in a decision taken by a city-based college to impose a ban on hijab, burka and naqab in its premises.

A division bench of Justices A S Chandurkar and Rajesh Patil said it was not inclined to interfere in the decision taken by the college and dismissed a petition filed against it by nine girl students, who are in the second and third year of a science degree course, PTI reported.

The students moved the HC earlier this month, challenging a directive issued by the Chembur Trombay Education Society’s NG Acharya and DK Marathe College imposing a dress code under which students cannot wear a hijab, naqab, burka, stoles, caps and badges inside the premises.

The petitioners claimed such a directive was against their fundamental rights to practice their religion, right to privacy and right to choice. The plea termed the college action as “arbitrary, unreasonable, bad-in-law and perverse”.

The petitioner’s advocate, Altaf Khan, last week submitted before the HC certain verses from the Quran to support their claim that wearing hijab was an essential part of Islam.

Apart from the right to practice their religion, the petitioners were also relying on their right to choice and privacy while opposing the college’s decision, he said.

The college had claimed the decision to ban hijab, naqab and burka in its premises was merely a disciplinary action for uniform dress code and was not against the Muslim community. Senior counsel Anil Anturkar, appearing for the college management, said the dress code was for all students belonging to every religion and caste.

The girls, however, claimed in their plea that such a directive was “nothing but colourable exercise of power”.

They initially requested the college management and principal to withdraw the restriction on naqab, burka and hijab and allow it “as a matter of right of choice, dignity and privacy in the classroom”.

The girls also raised their grievance against the notice with the chancellor, vice chancellor of the Mumbai University and the University Grants Commission, requesting their intervention “to upkeep the spirit of imparting education to all citizens without discrimination”.

However, when the students did not get any response, they filed a petition in the HC.

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